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32 Best Restaurants in San Jose, Costa Rica: Where to Eat

Are you looking for the best restaurants in San Jose, Costa Rica?

San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica. The downtown and surrounding area are filled with excellent restaurants, cafes, and bar options at a variety of price points.

There is a nice blend of cultures here. You can find delicious Costa Rican traditional food, but also a variety of other cuisine.

We live in San Jose and are somewhat of foodies. So, we love to try all the different food and drink options throughout the city. We compiled this list of the 32 best restaurants based on our personal favorite places to go.

The city is not really known for its food scene but, I think it should be. I’m sure there is something in San Jose that is the perfect place for you! So, let’s get into the best places to eat in Costa Rica’s largest city.

Current Costa Rica Travel Discounts

Oh, and stay tuned until the end of this post for a map of all the best restaurants in San Jose.

1. Esquinita Inka Cocina Peruana

A delicious Peruvian restaurant that serves a variety of meat and fish options. I suggest their lomo saltado steak. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? There isn’t a whole lot for vegetarians here. The menu is very meat and seafood-heavy. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can call them at +506 2232 6664

Location: One block north of La Sabana Park and the National Stadium

Check out Esquinita Inka Cocina Peruana

2. Apotecario

I like this place because everything is fresh and it just has a relaxed and approachable atmosphere. Sometimes we come here for brunch (they do a nice shakshuka). 

They also serve some fresh salads, sandwiches, and main dishes if you come for lunch and dinner.

One of the main draws here is the drink menu. They serve up some great cocktails. I love a good negroni and they have an interesting selection of negroni variations that I highly suggest checking out. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? Yes, there are a few different vegetarian options. 

Takes reservations? I don’t think they take reservations, but you can always call and ask +506 8891 0112

Location: Located in the heart of Barrio Escalante

Check out Apotecario

3. Soda Tala

An excellent place in downtown San Jose for a good typical Costa Rican meal. 

You know the saying that often the best food is at the most unsuspecting places? I think that is really true in Costa Rica. 

If you want good local cuisine, you really need to go to the small traditional places with tiny menus. 

At Soda Tala, I suggest getting a casado. This is a traditional Costa Rican meal of meat, rice beans, salad, tortilla, and a natural drink. It’s great!

Price point: $

Vegetarian option? Yes, I would suggest getting a tala pinto. This is a plate of rice, beans, egg, tortillas, and cheese. Just make sure they don’t cook it is bacon fat or something. 

Takes reservations? I don’t think they take reservations, but you really don’t need one. Just show up and they will happily greet you!

Check out Soda Tala

4. El Taller de Billy Sazon

This is not so much of a restaurant, but more of an exclusive dining experience. They only take one reservation per night to offer the best experience.

Billy, the chef, will prepare several courses for you with wine pairings.

It’s really something you need to experience on your own to fully understand, but be warned, this restaurant is at the highest price point on this whole list.  

Price point: $$$$

Takes reservations? Yes, the only way to visit is by reserving ahead of time. You can reserve here

Location: In Rorhmoser near the United States Embassy

Check out El Taller de Billy Sazon

5. El Novillo Alegre

We suggest going here for steak. That is really where their specialty lies and they have a wide variety of meat cuts to choose from. We have always had excellent service here as well.  

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? There are a few pasta options, but really this place isn’t the best for vegetarians. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can call them at +506 2282-6667

Location: They have multiple locations throughout San Jose. I recommend the Sabana location. 

Check out El Novillo Alegre

6. Le Bistrot De Paris

This is a relaxed French restaurant with food that is always excellent. It is not fancy in here, but I like that. It’s got a French cafe feel and the focus is on the food. 

I suggest opting for one of the menus with an appetizer, main course, and dessert. I am partial to the Boeuf Bourguignon, but everything I’ve had here has been great. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? There are very few vegetarian options. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can call them at +506 4702 2781

Location: This restaurant is located between the downtown area and La Sabana park. 

Check out Le Bistrot De Paris

7. Enboca

This is a fine dining experience with a focus on high-quality and fresh products. We suggest coming here for a very nice date night experience. 

Price point: $$$$

Vegetarian option? Yes! Finally a place on this list with decent vegetarian options!

Takes reservations? Yes, you can reserve here. Scroll to the very bottom of the page for the reservation section. 

Location: This restaurant is located just next to the national stadium

Check out Enbocacr

8. La Esquina de Buenos Aires

This is a great place to go if you are looking for an Argentinian steakhouse experience. They have several different cuts of meat with great side dishes.

I love the atmosphere here. It has a cozy traditional steakhouse vibe with wood paneling and tons of stuff to look at on the walls. It just feels traditional and comfortable. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian options? There are a few vegetarian options, but I really would only come here for the steak. 

Takes reservations? You can contact the restaurant at +506 2223 1909

Location: This restaurant is located centrally downtown near the National Museum of Costa Rica. 

Check out La Esquina de Buenos Aires

9. Restaurante Grano de Oro

This restaurant is located inside of the Grano de Oro Hotel. It is by far one of the highest-quality restaurants in San Jose. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. 

We like to come for lunch because it tends to fill up at night. 

I would classify this as an international restaurant. They serve a little bit of everything. Typically their fish and meat dishes are very good. 

Price point: $$$$

Vegetarian option? They have a few vegetarian options, but not a huge selection. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can make a reservation by calling +506 2255 3322

Location: This restaurant is located between the downtown area and La Sabana Park in Hotel Grano de Oro.

Check out Restaurante Grano de Oro

10. Doma Escalante

I like this place because they have unique menu items. For example, I really like their; goat cheese ravioli with spinach, roasted pumpkin and artichokes.

They also have really great cocktails.

Plus, the inside is comfortable and the staff is the best. 

Price point: $$$

Vegetarian option? There are a few vegetarian options, but not a whole lot. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can reserve through the link below

Location: Barrio Escalante

Check out Doma Escalante

11. L’Olivo

L’Olivo is our go-to date spot and our favorite restaurant for Italian food in San Jose. And, I am personally always craving Italian food, so we are here a lot.

The service here is excellent, the pasta is freshly made, and they have a very good extensive wine list. 

If you need suggestions, I often get the freshly made agnolotti di ricotta or the pasta ripiena al salmone. Both are excellent.  

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian options? Yes, there are plenty of vegetarian pasta options. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can call them at +506 2232 9440

Location: Near the national stadium and La Sabana Park

Check out L’Olivo

12. Isolina

This is a contemporary restaurant with unique menu options. I would argue that they also serve some of the best cocktails in San Jose.

They have a really good selection of small plates. Thomas and I typically like to just get several of those to share along with some cocktails.

However, they also have nice main courses as well. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian options? Yes, you should have no problem finding something good to eat as a vegetarian. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can book a table here

Location: Barrio Escalante

Check out Isolina

13. Il Padrino Pavas

This is a great option if you would like well-made pasta dishes or risotto. I think their prices are a bit high, but the quality of the food is really good. Plus, the restaurant itself is very nice.

I definitely suggest getting pasta here. I have not tried their pizzas, but I’ve heard those are good as well. 

If you are staying nearby, they also do takeout or Uber Eats delivery. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? Yes, they have plenty of vegetarian food options

Takes reservations? You can call them at +506 2220 1614

Location: In Pavas/ Rohrmoser neighborhood just west of La Sabana Park

Check out Il Padrino Pavas

14. Cafe La Mancha

This is the perfect coffee shop to go when you are downtown.  They serve delicious coffee, pastries, sandwiches etc. in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.

You can also buy bags of coffee here, which make for great souvenirs.

Price point: $

Location: Directly downtown on Avenida 1

Check out Cafe La Mancha

15. Tin Jo

This place arguably serves the best Asian food in San Jose. This family has been running the restaurant since the early 1970’s. The menu is extensive, so I suggest getting a few things to share. 

Price point: $$- $$$

Vegetarian option? Yes, this Asian restaurant has a whole separate vegetarian menu with TONS of options. If you are gluten-free, they also have a gluten-free menu. 

Takes reservations? You can call them at +506 2221 7605

Location: Just south of the main downtown area

Check out Tin Jo

16. La Divina Comida

This restaurant is excellent. Everything is always super fresh and well-prepared. It’s a great place to enjoy an elevated seafood experience. 

However, La Divina Comida is located near CIMA hospital and the Multiplaza mall. I don’t think you really need to go out of your way to come here if you are staying downtown. But, if you are in the Escazu area for medical tourism at the hospital, this is a great eating option. 

Price point: $$$$

Vegetarian options? Yes, there aren’t a ton of vegetarian options, but they have some nice vegetarian bowls.

Takes reservations? Yes, you can reserve with the link below

Location: In Escazu near CIMA Hospital

Check out La Divina Comida

17. Restaurante Mirador Ram Luna

This is more than just a traditional Costa Rican restaurant. Mirador Ram Luna is also an experience. This restaurant is located on one of the hills above the city and provides the best view of the city at night. 

I suggest planning to come here on a Wednesday. They have a traditional night with buffet, open bar, marimba music, and typical traditional dancing. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Takes reservations? Yes, I suggest reserving because this place is popular. +506 2230-3022

Location: South of the city. You will need a rental car to get here. 

Check out Restaurante Mirador Ram Luna

18. Sapore Trattoria

If you are in the downtown area and looking for Italian cuisine, this is the place to go. I think their price point is very reasonable, they serve tons of tasty dishes, and the atmosphere of the restaurant is cozy. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? Yes! There are plenty of pizzas and pasta dishes for vegetarians.

Takes reservations? Yes, you can reserve a table below

Location: Located in the downtown San Jose

Check out Sapore Trattoria

19. Tierra Gaucha Parrilla Argentina

A great steakhouse/ general restaurant in the downtown area. They have a covered outdoor seating area, but I actually think sitting inside is nice here.

I recommend getting one of the “To Share” plates for 2 people (if you are two people). It is a good way to try all of the delicious meats that they offer. 

Price point: $$- $$$

Vegetarian option? There are a few pasta dishes, but I wouldn’t suggest coming here as a vegetarian. 

Takes reservations? Yes, you can make a reservation here

Location: Downtown on the main road between La Sabana Park and the Children’s Hospital

Check out Tierra Gaucha Parrilla Argentina

20. Arbol de Seda

Finally a place for all you vegetarians! This restaurant serves quality food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All of their menu options are vegetarian.

You can get burgers, pizzas, beyond meat dishes, soy chicken dishes etc.

I like their oyster mushroom chicken burger. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Location: Barrio Escalante

Check out Arbol de Seda

21. Café Otoya

A nice cafe style place with a small outdoor courtyard to sit in. Everything is tasty and well made. I really just love coming here for the relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? Yes, there are a few vegetarian options. 

Location: On Avenida 7 near Parque Espana

Check out Café Otoya

22. Furca

Thomas and I usually come here if we are celebrating something and are up for spending some money (because this place is definitely high end). 

It’s got a modern steakhouse vibe to it. I like that they have a lot of meat options and all side dishes are added on separately. So, you can be very selective about what you want. 

I suggest getting a steak here and a nice glass of red wine. 

Price point: $$$$

Takes reservations? Yes, you can call them at +506 8349 7777

Location: Just west of La Sabana Park

Check out Furca

23. La Sorbetera de Lolo Mora

This place is a food stall located inside of Mercado Central. They serve sorbet that has a spiced vanilla flavor with hints of cinnamon and clove. Nothing else. That is all they serve here and it is delicious!

This place has actually been in business since the early 1900s, so it is a San Jose staple and ​​a local favorite. 

Price point: $

Location: The Central Market downtown

Pro Tip: Mercado Central is a good place to walk around to try all sorts of different food items. 

Check out La Sorbetera de Lolo Mora

24. Cafe Rojo

I come here probably way more often than I should, but it is delicious. This is a Vietnamese fusion cafe.

They serve amazing bowls and Báhn mí with your choice of toppings. I always get the pork but I hear the trout is also amazing.

They then top it with fresh ingredients such as vegetables, herbs, and a sauce of your choice. 

Price point: $

Vegetarian option? Yes, they have mushrooms or eggplant as a protein option for any of their bowls, salads, or báhn mí.

Location: Downtown on Avenida 7. Just look for the green house!

Check out Cafe Rojo

25. Momo Café

The cutest cafe and a great place to bring your laptop for some work. Just note, the cake here is amazing but the slices are HUGE! They also serve sandwiches, salads, etc. 

Price point: $

Vegetarian options? Yes, there are plenty of vegetarian options which they carefully mark on their menu. They can also accommodate with gluten-free bread if needed. 

Location: Downtown near Grano de Oro Hotel

Check out Momo Café

26. Restaurante 11.47

This place is delicious! Personally, I love places with tons of fresh vegetables and this place 100% satisfies that.

They serve bowls in which you can get a base (pasta, rice, or yucca) and then have vegetables and protein added. They also have a nice tasting menu. 

Price point: $$ – $$$

Vegetarian option? Yes, there are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options here.

Location: Slightly north of the downtown area between Barrio Escalante and Barrio Amon

Check out 11.47 Restaurante

Bars

There are plenty of nice bars in San José from craft beer bars to cocktail bars to dive bars.

San Jose has a decent nightlife scene with a lot of clubs. However, we are not the best people to advise you on where to party.

But, I can give you some great drinking locations! 

27. Stiefel Pub

Our favorite pub-style bar in San Jose. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside the atmosphere is nice.

They have a really good beer selection and serve bar food such as pizza and burgers.

The food is OK, but I think you are better off eating somewhere else and coming here for drinks. 

Location: Downtown San Jose

Check out Stiefel Pub

28. Wilk Craft Beer

Our go-to craft beer bar in Barrio Escalante. Their tap selection is really good. They also do tasting samplers, which is always nice if you would like to try several different drinks. 

They have a decent selection of food, but I would suggest going to one of the many other great restaurants in Barrio Escalante to eat and then coming here for a drink. 

Check out Wilk Craft Beer

29. Los Tres Perros

This cocktail bar is located within Enboca Restaurant (which we have listed above in the restaurant section).

The bar has a really nice outdoor garden seating area that I really like at night. They serve food which is mostly tapas and small plates. Everything is delicious.

The cocktails here are impressive and they have a very extensive selection of liquors. 

Location: At the national stadium in La Sabana Park

Check out Los Tres Perros

30. Bar D

OK, this is one of the coolest hidden gem bars ever! I guess I should really call it a Speakeasy instead of bar because it is hidden in the parking garage of Multiplaza (the biggest mall in Costa Rica). 

Thomas and I come to this mall fairly often and I never knew this place existed. I only found it when I started to make this list and saw it mentioned somewhere online. So, of course, we then had to go check it out. 

It is literally only accessible from a random door next to the staircase in the parking garage. Otherwise, you would never find it. 

Come here for a cocktail and stay for a good conversation with the bartender. 

Location: Go to parking deck D of Multiplaza and head towards the staircase. Look around and you will see a large wooden door inviting you in. 

Check out Bar D

31. Hoplers

Hoplers is a beer bar with a true bar feeling to it. The inside is dark and cozy with a pool table. They also have a nice outdoor patio area with some seating. And occasionally there is live music.

They serve food here as well such as pizza and burgers. 

Location: San Pedro (near the university)

Check out Hoplers

32. Calle Cimarrona

A good place for a craft beer. The bar is located in a shopping center with tables set up in the courtyard. They serve food as well, but we’ve never eaten here so I can’t really comment on that. 

Location: In the downtown area near Plaza de la Cultura

Check out Calle Cimarrona

Map of All the San Jose Restaurants

I know, that list was a bit overwhelming if you don’t have a good overview of the city. So, we created a map for you of all the places listed. Enjoy!

Other Things to Know About San Jose Restaurants

  • If you are staying near the San Jose Airport we suggest checking out our guide to Alajuela for places to eat. Most of the places on this list are in the downtown area of San Jose, which is a bit far from the airport.
  • One of the best ways to enjoy a dining and cultural experience in San Jose is with a food tour. Our favorite San Jose food tours are:
    • San Jose Night Food Tour & Dinner – One of my absolute favorite tours in San Jose (because…food). This is a great way to learn about the San Jose sights and food culture. Your tour ends with a delicious authentic three-course meal. 
    • Walking & Food Tour – Walk with a small group and dedicated guide through San Jose to learn about the culture and cuisine. Food samples are included. 
    • Bites & Bike Tour – A fun way to experience Costa Rica with a knowledgeable guide. Bikes and helmets are provided. 
  • Have you ever heard of Eat With? It’s a website that offers unique cultural dining experiences around the world. Basically, you select where you are going and you can find locals who are happy to invite you into their home to enjoy a meal with them. 
  • Please be careful when walking around San Jose at night. Theft has been known to happen. If you are out for dinner and have a longer walk back to your hotel, we suggest taking a registered taxi
  • If you would like takeout, Uber Eats is the way to go in San Jose. Keep in mind that there are no addresses in Costa Rica, but you can mark your GPS location or the name of your hotel and it should be fine. We order Uber Eats often and have never had an issue. 
  • There are plenty of grocery stores in the downtown area if you would like to cook your own meals. AutoMercado is the nicest store with the widest selection. It also typically has the highest prices. There are a few located downtown. Alternatively, any mini market will have basics such as pasta, some vegetables, snacks etc.
  • You should definitely try as many traditional Costa Rican dishes as you can while here. A lot of places on this list are open for breakfast. If you get breakfast, opt for a traditional meal of gallo pinto (mixed rice and beans) with scrambled eggs and fried plantains on the side. Yum!
  • You can drink the tap water in Costa Rica, but be a bit cautious. If you are worried about it, just buy bottled water. It is generally fairly cheap. 
  • If you want to just walk around and find a restaurant, I can give you a little overview. Barrio Escalante is great for cafes, vegetarian options, and craft beer bars. The downtown area is excellent for finding traditional Costa Rican food at a reasonable price point. Most of the high-end restaurants are located on the north west corner of La Sabana Park or in Escazu. 

For more info on planning your visit to San Jose, we suggest:

Conclusion: San Jose Restaurants

In conclusion, there are plenty of restaurants, cafe, and bars in San Jose. You are bound to find something that you’ll love in Costa Rica’s capital city!

We have been living in San Jose since 2016 and are still finding new restaurants to enjoy.

If you have any questions about finding the perfect dining experience, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!

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